FIVE hours on the road is nothing for five diehard rugby league fans from Taroom.
“We’re just footy mad,” said Greg Menzies, who along with John Chaplin, Ivan Hay, Graham Rewald and Wayne Merritt, drove from Taroom to Biloela for last week’s Callide-Dawson launch of the Central Queensland NRL Bid.
As the dignitaries left following some rousing speeches (see last week’s Central Telegraph) the Taroom lads were keeping the bar open and soaking up rugby league’s possible future in the district.
Menzies, a Taroom farmer, said his 18-year-old son, Lachlan, who completed his schooling in Toowoomba where he played footy, would have loved the opportunity given by an NRL team based in Central Queensland.
“Something like this to aspire to would be great for young people in Taroom,” he said.
Menzies, Hay and Merritt were all named in the Taroom Battlers team of the century back in May.
Menzies, a bustling prop, played for the Battlers in the Roma competition from 1979-1991 and was part of the 1988 and 1989 premiership teams.
Hay, a Taroom councillor prior to amalgamation, laced up the boots from 1979-1988, and was captain/coach in his last year and led them to a premiership.
Merritt pulled on the jersey from 1987-1991, and with Menzies was part of the 1988 and 1989 premiership wins, but Merritt, nicknamed “Max”, was captain/coach in 1987 and 1991.
CQ NRL Bid Team chairman Geoff Murphy said a CQ-based NRL team would commit to staging regular coaching clinics in the Callide-Dawson, including Taroom.
“It would be a huge shot in the arm for league in these communities, which form part of the game’s true heartland,” Mr Murphy said.
Mr Murphy said the establishment of a CQ-based NRL side would give local boys an opportunity to play big-time league, without relocating to southern capital cities, away from family and friends.
That is the message the five rugby league fanatics will take back to Taroom on their long trip home, even if they were the last to leave.
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